Convenient Strangers by Cara McKenna
2 out of 5 paddles
As Convenient Strangers opens, Stephen is breaking up with his boyfriend of more than two years. They had met in London, and Stephan had emigrated to a small Tennessee town to be with him. But Ethan is deeply closeted. He won’t acknowledge Stephen in public or even make love with the lights on. For the out and proud Stephen, it’s all very insulting and he’s had enough. He tries to get Ethan to understand his feelings but the man refuses to budge. Frustrated, Stephen stalks out, vowing to spend the night out and return the next day for his things.
Adam broke up with his boyfriend three weeks ago, but tonight is the first night he has screwed up the courage to go out and try to meet some new people. He visits the town’s only gay bar, where he spots Stephen playing pool by himself. Unlike his former boyfriend, the construction foreman Stephen is exactly Adam’s type. At first he’s rebuffed by the gruff Stephen, but soon they’re kissing in the corner.
This is essentially the story of a one night stand, two men on the rebound who need a night of just sex to wipe away the unhappy memories of their failed relationships. The author manages to draw things out amazing well, with a very extended session of foreplay, occasionally interrupted by periods of commiseration over their pasts. The two agree that they don’t do anal on the first date, but as things progress, their old rules seem less and less important, and eventually they do have hot sex.
The two men seem to have incredible chemistry, but the author doesn’t tie things up in a happily ever after bow. She doesn’t leave you hanging either, but leaves it open as to whether the two will get back together after their one night of passion. For such a short story, the characters are extremely well drawn and engaging.
While the sex in Convenient Strangers is hot, there’s really zero BDSM content. Stephen could be described as a power top, but he’s no dom. In fact, after the repressed and passive Ethan, Stephen revels in having a lover like Adam who will tell him what he likes, and even demand satisfaction. While the sex is rough at times, it’s mutual and never strays into kink territory.
The lack of kink is why I’ve only given the story two paddles. If I were rating it purely on the story and the writing, I would give it four stars out of five.